I was talking to a friend ‘S’ in SL the other day. Well IM’ing.. and the conversation turned to accents. He has spent time in the US. It turned up some points I figured might make a post, so here goes…
Something that often surprises me when in the US is that, in short interactions, people don’t necessarily seem to spot my accent. In longer conversation people are often curious about my accent, but can have difficulty identifying where I come from.
Now I have what I think of as a basic (and I like to imagine reasonably educated) SE England accent, maybe overlaid by a hint of ‘transatlantic’ that I think I noticed heading west we I passed the Azores coming back. It tends to do this when exposed to US accents for more than a few days.
The thing is Americans don’t generally get that I am from the UK from hearing me speak, and it is not just with me, it clearly happens with other Brits too.
If pushed to guess Americans often tag me as Bostonian, now I have not been to Boston yet so can’t say if I do sound vaguely Bostonian or not.
If they guess at a non US origin they almost always go for Australian, with a fall back position of New Zealand. Again, this is not just with me. In any case it’s ages since I watched and Neighbours so you can’t blame too much exposure to Oz soaps ^_^
Polling my friends and acquaintances this seems to be the general rule, I wonder if it is more widely true.
I wondered if it might be something to do with the movies. It’s like the average US citizen hears cut glass accents in old films and from bad guys, oh and awful ‘cockney’ ones, like Dick Van Dyke in ‘Mary Poppins’ and figure these are it.
Or is it that we just sound more American these days?
Mind you I think many Brits are often just as bad trying to tell a Canadian accent from a US one…